A violent crackdown in Baku on 19-20 January, 1990, pursuant to a state of emergency during the dissolution of the Soviet Union became known as Black January.
President Gorbachev and Defence Minister Yazov asserted that military law was necessary to stop the violence against the Armenian population and to thwart efforts by the Azerbaijani independence movement to overthrow the Soviet Azerbaijani government. According to official estimates between 133 and 137 Azerbaijani civilians died, 800 people were injured and 5 persons went missing. However the was more like 300 dead. Later on, in 1995 Gorbachev apologised to Azerbaijan by stating: “The declaration of a state emergency in Baku was the biggest mistake of my political career.“
In a resolution of 22 January, 1990, the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan SSR declared that the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of 19 January, used to impose emergency rule in Baku and military deployment, constituted an act of aggression. Black January is seen as the rebirth of the Azerbaijan Republic.